Can a Dog Scratch Cause Rabies?

can a dog scratch cause rabies

We know rabies can be transmitted by dog bites but can a dog scratch cause rabies too?

What is rabies?

Rabies is an extremely fatal virus that can be found in many mammals, including domesticated animals. It is transmitted primarily through the bite of another infected animal. The rabies virus infects the central nervous system and causes paralysis, which leads to death by respiratory failure. Once symptoms of the virus are apparent, there is no cure for rabies and it must run its course until death, which can take one to three months.
What animals can transmit rabies
Only mammals can transmit rabies to humans, and only bats, cats, dogs, foxes, skunks, and raccoons have been documented as doing so.

How to prevent rabies

As a general rule, the prevention of rabies is achieved by a dog’s vaccinations. This will establish a level of immunity to the virus and thus reduce the risk that it will be transferred to humans. It is important that vaccinations follow an inoculation schedule that will keep your pet safe from this deadly virus. In order to be as effective as possible, you should vaccinate against rabies every 3 years.

How the rabies virus works

The rabies virus is a family of RNA viruses that infects the central nervous system and other tissues. It causes progressive encephalitis, which is the inflammation of the brain. The virus gains access to tissue from neurons from peripheral nerves or from directly entering through abrasions in the skin. Once inside, it travels up the nerve cells until it reaches its target area within the brain.

Once in the central nervous system, the virus begins to produce more viruses that attack nerve cells and other cells in or around the brain. The speed at which this happens varies from person to person, but rabies kills within a few months.

How can a dog scratch cause rabies?

A dog scratching can cause rabies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that if a pet has scratched a person, they should get a rabies immunization as soon as possible. The CDC also recommends that the victim of a scratch from a suspected rabid animal wash the wound with soap and water or an antiseptic solution and seek medical attention promptly.
A dog’s claws are covered with bacteria and salts that can cause infection to humans. If the claws of an infected dog scratch you, it is possible to contract rabies. This is why it is important that you wash your wounds promptly.

Signs and symptoms of rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that causes illness in both animals and humans. Fortunately, rabies is rare in the United States, with only one to three cases reported each year. The most common sign of rabies is frothy saliva coming from the mouth or nose. Other symptoms include weakness, paralysis, dizziness, confusion, hallucinations, excessive drooling or difficulty swallowing, and seizures.


A variety of treatments are available for rabies, but the most common by far is the rabies vaccine. The rabies vaccine is administered in a series of shots over two weeks, with one injection per day.
The rabies vaccine is effective if given before symptoms appear. If your doctor suspects you may have been bitten by an animal suspected to carry rabies, he or she will likely give you a preventive dose of antibody that can head off any symptoms that might otherwise show up.


In conclusion, scratching or biting a dog can cause rabies. It’s possible for you to transfer the virus to your family if they are not vaccinated. Always keep your dog away from other animals and avoid contact with stray dogs to reduce the risk of getting rabies.

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